Pure Julianna Baggott Book Review

Straight up, Pure by Julianna Baggott is a bleak book. Expect grime. Expect grit. Expect to be grossed out by what you read. Don’t come into Pure expecting girls on fire in pretty dresses, because you won’t find that in Baggott’s post-apocalyptic world. I wanted to put Pure down at several points because it felt too dark to continue – but Asheley encouraged me to continue with it. I’m glad for her encouragement because Pure is a book worth reading if you go in with the right attitude. Expect less of the Hunger Games style and more Cormac McCarthy a la The Road. Pure  reads as more of an adult book than it does a YA. It never shies away from the grotesque.

Pure Julianna Baggott Book Review Cover


Pressia Belze, 16, is fighting to survive. Ever day she can hide from the OSR (Operation Sacred Revolution) and barter food for her and her grandfather is considered a success. The world Pressia lives in is not beautiful. Detonations hit the world and people have merged with each other, animals and objects. Pure is literally terrifying. Everyone has mutated except those who were in the Dome. These people are Pures and are intact and have no contact with the wretches – until Partridge Willux escapes to the outside.

Pure by Julianna Baggott is a harrowing nail biter told in present tense. The jury is out on how I feel about present tense, but I thought in the case of Pure it certainly added to the on-edge feeling I had while reading. I had no idea what was going to happen and honestly, felt as though I was taken for a long, strange ride. I mean this in the best kind of way.

Pure by Julianna Baggott will appeal to a certain kind of reader – if you were patient enough for The Passage, could handle The Road’s bleakness and have a strong stomach, Pure is the book for you. If you want dystopia-post-apocalyptic lite, search elsewhere.

Disclosure: Review copy received via Netgalley.

Other reviews of Pure by Julianna Baggott:

Fiction Folio
Into the Hall Of Books
The Book Smugglers

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’ve heard some very good things about Pure. I really liked your review. You told me enough without telling me too much. I’m now even more excited to get my hands on it 🙂

  2. Pure was a lot darker than I was expecting. It was…strange. I did like it, though. Great review!

  3. I really enjoyed Pure, though I was taken aback by how dark it was. The ARC I got was all THIS IS THE NEXT HUNGER GAMES and that is inaccurate to the max. But! It is great in its own right, out there in genre-bending land.

  4. YES!!!! I’m SO GLAD you stuck with it. It definitely isn’t LITE, that’s why I contend it is major crossover and cited Justin Cronin’s appearances in the marketing campaign several times and the similarities as my back-up for stating this.

    And I totally agree with your saying it is more The Road than The Hunger Games. Whenever I hear anyone anywhere say anything about an ash-filled environment, my mind goes to Cormac McCarthy, and certainly now it will flutter to the world Pressie and Bradwell live in as well.

    I did read a quote that said something to the effect of how Katniss and Pressia could be best friends, so I understand they’re marketing to the YA crowd too. But I myself do not like comparisons that much, particularly when they involve The Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga. Pure is solid and legit enough to stand firmly enough on its own. I am super excited that you stuck with it, again, and I am thrilled about its release today. Really, I couldn’t be happier. And I adore Julianna Baggott.

  5. I’m seriously not sure about this book… I absolutely love to be shocked and stunned and basically left sitting in the dust of a book wondering WTF but this sounds… I dunno. Maybe too much! Of course, that just means I probably want to read it even more!

    It’s funny you mentioned about how it’s written in present tense and that you’re not sure about it. I feel lately I’ve noticed this trend of more and more books being written in present tense and I’m not sure how I feel about them either. I think they suck you in, leave you guessing a little more, when written in present tense. But I also feel like you get more of a shock factor when something big does happen because not only you get to experience it for the first time, the narrator/main character does as well. So, in conclusion, not sure which tense I like better, but as long as the book is great, in my opinion who cares?! 🙂

    • I like your point about the shock that comes with present tense. I know that when a book is told in first person I don’t tend to get as nervous because since it’s in first person, I feel relatively assured that the narrating character lives.

      I think you’d like Pure as long as you don’t go into it expecting The Hunger Games.

  6. So you suggest sticking with it, then? Because I’m about halfway through and had to put it down for awhile because it is SO HEAVY. If you enjoyed it, that motivates me to stick it out.

    • I did like it, but you also have to consider that I am a really patient reader — I mean I wade through Stephen King with glee and was down with all JRR Tolkien’s descriptions with LOTR. And also made it all the way through The Passage. So yeah, depends on how patient you are, ya know?

  7. Did you have the patience for The Passage? That was my (ever-so-romantic?) honeymoon read. Loved it! Can’t wait to finally read Pure! It sounds right up my bleak alley!

  8. I loved Pure when I read it. I found that at times it was a slow pace, but the grittiness of it is actually what kept me going. I love dark tales and this definitely satisfied that for me!

  9. I have Pure sitting at home waiting to be read right now and this review has made me even more excited to read it. Comparisons to The Road and The Passage? YES PLEASE.

  10. I get excited whenever I see that someone else enjoyed this book. I read it for work a couple months ago and have been eagerly waiting for others to read it. I think it is one of those books that is just at the upper end of young adult, more like 16+.

    So glad you liked it!

  11. people have merged with each other, animals and objects

    I have no idea what to expect from that. I wonder if I would have the stomach for it…

  12. I am so drawn in by the darkness of this.

  13. Dolls freak me the F out. Her click-y doll’s head hand made reading really difficult and then there were the freaks composed of multiple people and other fused people…*shudder*. But the worldbuilding was so amazing. Bleak as all get out but amazing. Dark freakin’ book.

  14. Most people I know that have read Pure haven’t liked it, both for its bleakness and its length. I actually really liked it!

  15. I haven’t read The Passage or The Road. Should I prioritize reading one of those books instead of reading Pure?

    Overall, YA bloggers’ reactions to Pure remind me of the reviews of America Pacifica by Anna North, which was also an adult novel that was marketed to YA readers.

  16. Pure seems a lot like Angelfall by Susan Ee which i loved im ok with bleek gory books , loved Hunger games, Chaos Walking injoyed Gone, Battle Royale.Gore as long as its not over done and important to the plot doesnt bother me. I think i will try it out the main charecter having a dols head instead of a hand seems original and interesting.

  17. Great review! I wish I had read this because it probably would have stopped me from trudging through Pure. The comparison to “The Road” is apt. It’s funny that reading your reviews has made me identify something about myself as a reader – a lot of the books that I have found boring have been really bleak and I think I disconnect from bleak.


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  2. […] “If you want dystopia-post-apocalyptic lite, search elsewhere.” – April @ Good Books and Good Wine […]

  3. […] on Hoopla to borrow as an audiobook. Is this seriously only the story of my life? Anyways, I LOVED Pure when I first read it, years and years ago when it came out. It was weird and different and gritty […]